Girl Versus Dough

gluten free coconut-ginger banana bread

Gluten Free Coconut Ginger Banana Bread

I recognize that it is a gift.

For someone who has her own plethora of food allergies — including bananas, ironically — I know what it’s like to be restricted in what is edible to me. But I also know that it’s much, much easier to avoid bananas, cantaloupe, nectarines… sigh, the list goes on… than it is to avoid gluten, something that’s in pretty much any bread or pasta product. As I’m sure many gluten free eaters don’t miss gluten, I don’t necessarily pine for bananas — but there are some things, like this delicious-looking bread, that I do wish I could eat. Le sigh.

So instead, I made this bread so those who might otherwise not be able to eat breads from my blog can eat this. Methinks it’s a good trade.

rieska

rieska with butter

It’s official. My case of cabin fever has moved beyond the stage of being curable — at least, that is, by anything other than time. No amount of willpower, movie watching, exercising, music listening, Valentine’s Day-ing (though I must say my valentine is one very bright spot, even in these sunless days) or cookie eating is going to tear me from the threshold of these winter blues.

It happens every year, and so I’ve come to expect it and, like a flower wrapped tightly in its bud, wait (mostly) patiently for the impending thaw of springtime, when it bursts in a colorful force through the crunchy gray snow and melts all of it — and my wintry woes — away.

In the waiting, however, I’ve learned to create for myself an arsenal of survival tools — a really good book, some good company, a few cups of warm tea. And now, perhaps, this bread, as rustic and reliable as one needs when he or she is feeling cabin feverish. This bread — this rieska, this Finnish wonder of ridiculously easy bread baking — is a true companion in these darker days.

cherry, maple & walnut granola

Cherry, Maple and Walnut Granola

I have a running theory that if I was a superhero (or, more aptly, a superheroine), my Kryptonite would be homemade granola. I’d be able to climb tall buildings effortlessly, travel for miles in a single leap and save cats stranded in trees with no more effort than it takes to lift my pinky finger — but even one whiff of granola, and I’m a goner. True story.

So you can imagine how difficult it was for me to make this homemade cherry, maple and walnut granola this past weekend and force myself to not eat all seven cups in one sitting. Even now, I stare at the photos longingly, wishing they would invent a computer screen like that television in “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” where you can grab a real candy bar out of it, and where Mike Teevee gets divided into a million pieces — but that’s not important.

ricotta-olive oil herb bread

ricotta olive oil herb bread sliced on cutting board

I’m looking outside my window at the dense fog and winter chill clinging to bony tree branches and wishing I could see sunshine and palm trees instead.

I’m sitting here surrounded by a pile of crumpled Kleenexes with raging sinus pressure and wishing that I could snap my fingers and this horrible cold would just disappear.

I’m thinking about how I want so much to change in the next few months and wishing that none of it would change at all at the same time.

I’m realizing that as much as I look outside, inside or to the future and wish for so many things to be different or the same, in every case, I’d rather just be here, with you, dear reader. And a warm, buttered slice of this ricotta-olive oil herb bread. Life is just much simpler that way.

sifted words — bread 101

Bread 101

Were I a professional baker, I probably wouldn’t end up with flat, under-risen loaves of bread on a near-regular basis. I probably wouldn’t have nightmares in my sleep of covering my entire kitchen in flour or burning forgotten breads to a crisp in the oven. I probably wouldn’t have daily ruminations like, “Did I OVERknead the bread or UNDERknead it?” while staring at my computer screen, and the mere thought of a sourdough starter wouldn’t send me straight to the grocery store, grabbing a pretty, freshly baked loaf in fear and exclaiming, out loud, to no one, “How do they DO it?!”

But, professional bakers probably think about these things, too, from time to time. You can’t tell me Peter Reinhart hasn’t had a few floppy baguettes or soggy bagels in his time, or that every loaf of bread that emerges from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s oven is absolutely perfect (Oh, who am I kidding? It probably is).

orange-buttermilk cake doughnuts + chocolate-orange glaze

Orange Buttermilk Cake Doughnuts

This has been one horrible, no good, very bad week so far.

I know this isn’t why you came here. You came here for doughnuts, not to hear about how my car’s windshield wipers stopped working in the middle of a snowstorm, or how I broke my new necklace the first day I wore it and then subsequently spilled coffee all over my pants at work, or how I tried to make simple things like poached eggs and grilled cheese (grilled cheese!) for dinner and failed miserably, or how, lately, some of my life’s circumstances getting the better of me.

But I’m keeping it real, here, people. Sometimes, we just have a really crummy week.

Thankfully, we also have doughnuts.